Where did Laila Ali muster the moxie to launch her own successful boxing career?
Surprisingly, it wasn’t her famous father, The Greatest of All Time, Muhammad Ali.
No, it was a fight on TV that gave Laila the idea she could box. She was a 20-something nail salon owner in the late 90s when she settled down one evening to watch Mike Tyson pummel an opponent. The undercard that night featured a professional women’s match. It was the first time it really occurred to Laila that women could box, and it was the first time it occurred to her that she might be good at it.
And good she was. Her career lasted nearly a decade, and she finished 24-0 with 21 knockouts. She earned Super Middleweight Champion title from the International Boxing Association, the Women’s International Boxing Association and the International Women’s Boxing Federation. She also was recognized with the International Women’s Boxing Federation’s Light Heavyweight title.
She has since transitioned to a career as “Wellness & Fitness Expert, Undefeated Boxing Champion, TV Host, Cooking Enthusiast, Beauty & Lifestyle Brand CEO, Actress, Advocate for Children, Author, Speaker, Mom,” according to her website. She’s appeared on dozens of reality TV shows, including Chopped and Dancing with the Stars. She’s hosted her own show, written a cookbook and now has her own podcast.
It’s hard to predict the trajectory Laila’s life might have taken if she hadn’t been inspired by that fight she saw, and acted upon that inspiration to build her own successful career as a fighter and celebrity. It’s not hard to imagine her life would still have been successful, given her considerable talent and drive. It just might not have been so public.
I wonder who is watching Laila, and thinking to themselves, “I didn’t realize a woman could do that. I didn’t realize a mom could do that. I didn’t realize someone like me could do that.” I wonder who is watching Laila, and finding their own inspiration, realizing their own potential, and summoning up their own moxie to make it happen.
I wonder who is watching you, and thinking to themselves, “I didn’t realize that was possible. Maybe I can try something impossible, too.”
Who inspires you?
Perhaps more importantly, who do you inspire?